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review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (Main St. Book Club)

Written By: Word Nerd - Jul• 17•12

A Discovery of Witches

Deborah Harkness

Viking Adult/Paranormal fiction

Release Date:  February 8, 2011

A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.  Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.   Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

I absolutely would not have picked up this book on my own.  I am really and truly over the whole modern vampire trend.  Let me sum up every modern vampire story out there– The vampire is gorgeous beyond belief, extremely wealthy and has unrivaled intelligence.  He acts coldly because he is attracted to the heroine’s scent and fears that if the facade cracks he will not be able to control himself.  The heroine is weak and needy, although she fancies herself to be a warrior.  The vampire must protect the heroine by making every little decision for her, including when to eat, sleep and bathe.  There is some powerful group that sets the rules for vampires and they are disturbed by the vampire/heroine relationship, sides are drawn and a battle ensues.

You may now skip the first two-thirds of A Discovery of Witches.

Don’t misunderstand, Harkness does a lovely job of telling the story.  Unfortunately, it is the same story we have heard many times before.  The names are different, the location has changed, but there is no doubt that the story is the same.

My verdict:  Skip it.  It isn’t until the last third of the book that things begin to get interesting.  I am actually looking forward to the next book in the series, as the story was just beginning to pick up steam when it ended on page 586.  Unless you are just dying for a rehashed vampire story, you can start the trilogy on Book 2.

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